Faithlife Sermons

0953 Mk.3.7-19 Insiders and Outsiders Pt.1

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When I entered Bible College, like most students, you had the desire to change the world for Christ
The reality, however, is very different
In the 1980-90’s, we were going through a time where the trend within churches was the “Church Growth Movement”
This spawned many methods & techniques in order to improve the growth of the church
Some ideas, which had been neglected, were helpful but the overall energy & direction was not
Instead of holding fast to the truth of the Gospel, this movement became more interested in growth for growth’s sake
As a result, the church was left impoverished as preaching was dumbed down
Where the youth were not challenged to grow, by be taught & discipled
Instead, they were not to be stretched, but catered to through the use of live, loud, contemporary songs that were shallow in content, but rousing in music
The focus was to amuse or entertain rather than to teach, to challenge, & to grow in Christian maturity
However, decades later, many church leaders are now bemoaning the fact that these youth never stayed in the church anyway
When the church tries to compete with the world regarding amusements, the church will lose every time
You cannot mix the self-sacrificing, discipling, Gospel message with an ear-tickling, emotionally-charged, froth & bubble, touchy-feely, scratch my itches, Service
Either one or the other will go - & when popularity is chosen, the truth & strength & challenge of the true Gospel message started leeching out of the church
These young people got to university & couldn’t cope with the secular challenges because they had never been warned or educated about the secular worldview
Instead of raising the next generation of leaders, they ended up ruining them, by dumbing down the rigours of Christianity
Q. How did it happen? They were using the wrong approach - they turned discipleship into Sesame Street
Some may think that unkind to say, & although not true of everyone, when push comes to shove, this is what you have left of many young people who will probably never give the Gospel another look at

1. The Outsiders Mk. 3:7-12

In 1994, my final year at Kenmore Christian College, we moved to Gatton - about an hour & a half’s drive west of Brisbane
I was the Pastor of this fellowship in Gatton while still attending Bible College in Brisbane - it was a tough year
A number of the congregation were rather upset by the previous pastor who was trying to become popular & in the process, offended some of the people
He would dress in a full attired clown suit & would lead the church in communion & worship like that
I never met the pastor - he had gone before I had come - so I never really got to ask him why he did such a thing
I can only guess that he was doing it for the children or maybe some adults - I just don’t know
But it seems from what the church members were saying, that it was about being popular
In his book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, Neil Postman writes...
I know of one rabbi who has seriously proposed to his congregation that Luciano Pavarotti be engaged to sing Kol Nidre at a Yom Kippur service. He believes that the event would fill the synagogue as never before. Who can doubt it? But as Hannah Arendt would say, that is the problem, not a solution to one. As a member of the Commission on Theology, Education and the Electronic Media of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, I am aware of the deep concern among "established" Protestant religions about the tendency toward refashioning Protestant services so that they are more televisible. It is well understood at the National Council that the danger is not that religion has become the content of television shows but that television shows may become the content of religion.
— Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
To stay in power, leaders in government have to stay popular
It’s one of the weaknesses, I see, in democracy
Instead of getting a government that does what is right, you get a government that does what is popular & quite often the go to becomes the lowest common denominator
That is a bad thing when the flavour of the day is like what we experience now
The dumbing down of righteousness & of morality
Where Christianity is starting to be seen, by some in government, as a cancer upon society - they don’t say it as such, but many are legislating as if it is the case
Here in this passage from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ popularity is soaring
So much so, that He had to get in a boat to prevent people from crowding Him - it was a mobile pulpit
People were coming from everywhere
From Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea (deep Sth of Israel)
From Tyre & Sidon (Nth of Israel) & even from beyond - across the other side of the Jordan river
Q. Why, however, is He so popular?
Q. Were they loving the message? Were they into His teaching?
I’ve been putting my sermons up on a platform called Bitchute for about 8 mths now & it will rank, for me, the most popular - the two most popular of my sermons say a lot about what people want to hear
The most popular with 122 views is “Possessing the Spirit of Gaius or Diotrephes”
The second with 89 views is “Confidence in Facing the Day of Judgement”
The least one with 20 views is “God Became Flesh” & it also happens to be one that has been up on the platform the longest so it should, automatically , have had more time to be viewed & to rake up the number of views
Now this latter one ought to be the most popular in so far as the Gospel is concerned, right? But it says something about what people want to hear
But people who bring the true message of the Lord are, usually, not popular
The true prophets of the Lord were rarely received well & were usually persecuted
Matthew 23:37–38 NASB95
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
On the other hand, false prophets were honoured & adored
Q. Why? Because they told the people the very things they wanted to hear
Jeremiah 5:30–31 NASB95
30 “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?
The people love to hear messages of peace, messages of love, messages of acceptance
They get upset when God challenges them on their lifestyle or on how they treat people or think about others
In fact, many people were leaving Jesus because they just couldn’t accept what He was saying
John 6:63–66 NASB95
63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
When Paul was counselling Timothy on how he was to pastor the church in Ephesus, he warned him of the danger of being a people pleaser
That there were times that would come where people will not want to hear the truth, but rather love to have their ears tickled
2 Timothy 4:2–3 NASB95
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
They will call to themselves the pastors who will speak the nice things they want to hear
If the Pastor is not a lover of the Lord & of His truth, then that church is in trouble
After Paul had to address some uneasy topics with the Galatians, he had this to say...
Galatians 1:10 NASB95
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Here in our passage, these people that have come from all over the countryside are not following Jesus for the message He is bringing, but for the hope of spiritual & physical healing
His healings is the ability to give people back their health - He was giving them pain-relief - from the afflictions they were experiencing, both physical & spiritual
Now this is all well & good - I’d be following Him too
However, people need to realise that following Jesus like this, does not mean that they can know the salvation of the Lord
They are outsiders - they are having contact with Jesus & that’s great - but those things Jesus was doing, in themselves, cannot bring a person to a proper understanding of the Lord
Now most of the people would not know that Jesus is the Son of God, but the demons know
2 questions here:
Q. Why do the demons all of a sudden & for no apparent reason, make confession of Jesus as the Son of God?
Q. Why did Jesus tell them to be quiet?
I would have thought that that is what Jesus wanted the crowds to know
Now to the first question: It was well known that knowing & voicing the name of a person helped you gain authority over them
The deliberate saying of the person’s name was a method, a tactic of control
Q. Why else would the demons be so quick to fall down & explicitly shout out who He is - “You are the Son of God”?
On other occasions, they add that He is the Son of the Most High
Mark 5:7 NASB95
7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!”
If demons are antichrists, why would they shout out who He is & let everybody know, unless they had an ulterior motive
It seems it was both to cause Him trouble, & by being feisty to try & gain the upper hand
To the second question: why did Jesus tell them to be silent?
Now of course, what the demons said was true - we find the Father testifying as such
First at His baptism, the Father testified
Mark 1:11 NASB95
11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
The revelation of the Father to Jesus’ closest disciples…on the Mt of Transfiguration
Mark 9:7 NASB95
7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”
Also, there’s the testimony of the Centurion who witnessed how Jesus’ died...
Mark 15:39 NASB95
39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Q. Now, can you imagine trying to hang up pictures on your wall when the wall had only just received a fresh coat of paint & was not dry? What a mess you’d make!
Jesus had preparation to make before He would be arrested & ultimately suffer on a cross for our sins
Q. Could He have just gone to the cross at the start of His ministry?
Q. What could anyone possible make of that?
Q. How could anyone get on board with Jesus when no groundwork had been laid - when no teaching had been given - when no discipleship could be done?
Jesus had preparatory work to do before He would be arrested & sentenced to death
From this point of view & at this stage in His ministry, He had to remain - to a certain extent - incognito
His cover was not to be blown to the extent that His ministry-time would be jeopardised

2. The Insiders Mk. 3:13-19

When it comes to a relationship with Jesus, there is no middle ground
Those of you who know the old Karate Kid movie of the mid 80’s, will remember the analogy that Mr. Miyagi, the Karate teacher gave to his pupil - his pupil who kept saying “I guess so” to his instructions
So Mr Miyagi gave him an analogy of walking down the road
Walk right side of the road, safe; walk on left side, safe; walk in the middle, sooner or later, get the squish, just like grape
He said, “Here, Karate same thing. Either you Karate do yes, or Karate do no, you Karate do guess so, squish, just like grape”
That analogy of either on being one side or the other is fitting here when it comes to Jesus’ followers
You are either on the inside with Jesus, or the outside
You are either ready to live for Jesus or are just using Him to get a better life here in the present
In contrast with the crowds, Jesus had what is called disciples
Mark 3:9 NASB95
9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him;
V.13 says that He went up on a mountain & chose 12 specific men to be His close companions
They would have unique, specific tasks & would become His close inner circle
In Luke’s Gospel, it tells us that Jesus spent all night in prayer before He chose these men
Luke 6:12–13 NASB95
12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
This is a unique, once for all, appointment
They were given specific tasks & specific powers
One of the pitfalls was that Jesus was not without His limits
He could only preach at one place at one time
He also needed to devote significant time to re-producing Himself in these men so that after He goes back to the Father, these men could carry on His work
It is interesting here that Mark makes a good point of the fact that Jesus struggled to preach His message because people were just so eager to get their healing
He had to take the desperate measure of standing in a boat off-shore to be able to address the people without them wanting to grab Him or touch Him
The people were of the opinion that the “magical” powers of Jesus would just ooze out of Him & if you were fortunate enough to touch Him, then that healing power would flow into you
No doubt, you are familiar with the woman who had the constant bleeding for 12 yrs
She thought that if she could just touch His garments, then she would get well & that is what happened
Mark 5:30 NASB95
30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?”
The disciples were a bit mystified because there were people at Jesus left, right & centre who were all over Him
But there was something special in this woman that made the difference
Mark 5:33–34 NASB95
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
After His resurrection & ascension back to God, His power was still with His apostles
Acts 5:14–16 NASB95
14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
Then you have the apostle Paul who wasn’t even present when people were being healed
Acts 19:11–12 NASB95
11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.
2 things stand out here:
Only select people were given this power
The healings were complete & verifiable
It’s important that the church recognise this, otherwise, as has already happened, mockery results where so-called healings were either feigned or failed to happen
While I was pastoring the church at the Eagleby Church of Christ a lady of the congregation was asked to join her family in witnessing a healing that God had apparently said would happen
Her sister lived in Newcastle & made this claim & the whole family gathered there for this “healing”
Not all the family were Christian & I remember the lady saying that it will not be good if the healing doesn’t happen
She travelled all the way to Newcastle to be there
Now, as you expected, nothing happened & all that was left was disappointment in the Christians & annoyance from unbelieving family members that, to be honest, never expected the lady in the wheelchair to step out of it & walk again
But this underlines the fact that God has not chosen every Christian for a task that is quite clearly bound up in that first generation of believers
Why was it bound up in the 1st generation of believers?
Because only the 1st generation of believers were able to witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ
The greater purpose of the miracles & healings was to authenticate the resurrection of Jesus
So those who exercised their healing gifts - the power to drive out demons and to heal people - were able to testify that Jesus is alive because as the healings were done in His name, the healings were done by Jesus who must still be alive for the healings to happen
Unfortunately, none of us were there to witness to His resurrection, but those within the 1st century were able to & they became further evidence of the resurrection of Jesus as the healings came through those who claimed to have witnessed the risen Jesus adding further confirmation that He is alive
Some of these men listed here, Jesus had already called to follow Him
Peter, James & John, He called when on the beach while they were cleaning their fishing nets
Of interest is the fact that they either still had their boats when they left everything to follow Him, or perhaps, the father of James & John looked after their equipment while they were with Jesus
Q. The question to ask is where did they get the boat for Jesus to use as a mobile pulpit?
Mark 3:9 NASB95
9 And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him;
It’s speculative, I suppose, but it makes you wonder if someone was keeping the fishing boats for them
Nathaniel was called after Jesus told him He had seen him under a fig tree when Phillip called him
John 1:48–49 NASB95
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”
Now, you may have noticed that Nathaniel is not mentioned here in today’s reading - but it seems that he also goes by another name - the name, Bartholomew
I won’t go through each of these but it seems that the call of Jesus preceded their appointment as the 12 & who would become His apostles - close companions who would spend their full time with Jesus
The difference is that, in the call, they came to be with Him
In the appointment to be apostles, they are given specific tasks to carry out as part of the ministry of Jesus Himself
They would be sent out to preach & have authority to cast out the demons
It even included the very one who would betray Jesus & bring on His suffering & death
Q. How would you handle working with this guy for another 3 yrs knowing that it would be he who would betray you?
This passage has shown us that there are 2 kinds of people who were attracted to Jesus - the insiders & the outsiders
Those who were looking for immediate relief from their afflictions & those who, like Nathaniel/Bartholomew, were looking for the Son of God, the king of Israel
Q. How do you see Jesus & what does He mean to you?
Q. Is He someone who suits you for the moment, but you’re not much interested in following Him as a disciple?
These are questions for you to ponder & to search your heart over
We can all too easily bypass the hard questions, especially, if we have been brought up in a family that is Christian & never stood on our own two feet in confessing Jesus
We all & each one of us, have to think through & determine why we are following or, want to follow, this Jesus
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